If you spent any time in some of Auckland’s more fringe and subcultural bars, nightclubs and live music venues over the last 40 years, chances are you’ve been part of a late-night dancefloor with Patrick Waller. Better known as DJ Dubhead, Waller delivers a surefooted soundtrack of vintage ska, rocksteady, roots reggae, dub, dancehall, funk, and hip-hop on the turntables, perhaps in combination with his long-time MC and close friend, Jamaican dancehall vocalist Tuffy Culture.
Outside of clubland, Waller is also the originator and host of 95bFM’s longstanding show The Rhythm Selection, broadcast on Monday nights from 9-11pm, where he has shared his musical passions with a dedicated listening audience since 1990.
Before he began hosting The Rhythm Selection, Waller spent part of the 1980s playing cello, percussion and singing with a rogues’ gallery of early and influential Auckland goth-rock, anarcho-folk, post-punk, minimal wave and experimental music groups – Silent Decree, The Kiwi Animal, Phantom Forth, Surgical Brain Implant, Drugs, and A Physical Fling. Even earlier than that, he helped make private-press vinyl recordings and toured Australia as a teenage classical musician.
Later, Waller was the t-shirt screen printer of choice for Auckland’s late 80s/early 90s band scene. In the 90s and 2000s, as Sound Foundation, he made dub and ragga hip-hop records with his friends for the Deepgrooves Entertainment and Kog Transmissions labels.
Amidst all these activities, Waller spent several years working as 95bFM’s music programming director in the early 2000s, along the way lending crucial early support to a generation of emerging New Zealand musicians that included The Mint Chicks, Opensouls, Sheelahroc, Deceptikonz, Scribe, Phelps & Munro, SJD, Red Eye Society, The Datsuns, and The D4. Then there’s the run of compilation albums he assembled for 95bFM and Kog Transmissions.
This two-part feature closely examines Waller’s story: a tale that involves childhood 7” record collections and portable turntables, choral and classical music, the rapture of discovering punk rock, reggae and dub, the power of student radio, and so much more.
Blessed with a vivid memory, a borderline encyclopaedic knowledge of his musical loves and a generous sense of humour, he’s been in the right place at the right time, time and time again. Singer, instrumentalist, producer, DJ, behind-the-scenes guy. If you can give it a go, Waller has probably given it a go. He’s not done yet either, far from it.